Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rhino Poaching

#RhinoNews: The past 10 days, which include the full moon period have been the toughest in the #KNP with 27 rhino lost, 3 arrests, 2 fatalities, 3 rifles confiscated along with ammunition and poaching equipment. A pair of rhino horns were also discovered from those arrested.

Rhino News

#RhinoNews! 2 rhino poachers fatally wounded by rangers yesterday near Langtoon dam. 2 firearms, ammo & poaching equipment recovered.

Did You Know??

#DidYouKnow? If an elephant charges with ears flapping, it may only be a mock charge, but if the ears are folded back against the head,accompanied by a trunk that is curled inward, then the charge is for real!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Animals Of Kruger

Giraffe
Elephant sleeping
Male Lion



 

Rhino News

#RhinoNews! 3 suspected #rhinopoachers were arrested yesterday at Tshokwane Section after killing a black rhino. A .458 hunting rifle with silencer, ammunition, a pair of rhino horns & poaching related equipment were recovered at the scene. One of the poachers was wounded during the incident and is currently being treated in hospital.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Special Lions

To find out more about what is special about these lions, please follow the link ;) http://www.sanparks.org/about/news/default.php?id=55509

Update On Rhino Poaching

Update on rhino poaching: The number of rhino poached for their horn in South Africa since the beginning of the year has increased to 249. http://www.sanparks.org/about/news/default.php?id=55508

Safari Continued

22 April 2013

With Dean

Route: Nkambeni - Numbi gate tar - Napi road - skukuza for a break.

Animals seen was elephant, buffalo, rhino, impala, kudu and a leopard, 100 meters down watergate.
After our break it was down to the low water bridge for crocodile and then down Elloff street for hippo. It was then back onto the Napi road to Numbi gate getting more buffalo and elephant and giraffe.

After dropping off Dianne we made our way to the camp of Pretoriuskop for lunch after which we drove down to Shithave dam getting waterbuck. We then made our way to Nkambeni tented camp as guests were going on afternoon / evening game drive.

23 April2013

Route: Nkambeni tented camp - Numbi gate tar - Napi road - skukuza for a break.

Animals seen were rhino, buffalo and elephant.

After our break at skukuza we got a call of lions walking on the S114, we drove down there and found them 3.9 km's from the Napi road junction. While on the sighting, another call came through about a leopard also on the S114, after finishing at the lion sighting, we made our way to the leopard sighting and found him lying on the rock under a African broad bean tree. After enjoying the sighting, we went back up the S114 and made our way down Elloff street over the high water bridge and down Tshokwane tar.

Animals seen were impala, hippo, crocodile and elephant.

After a break for lunch, we made our way down the Doispane and out at Phabeni gate.
Animals seen were impala, kudu, zebra, wildebeest, elephant, buffalo and giraffe.

24 April 2013

With Mark

Route: Napi - H3 - S112 - S114 - napi - nkambeni

Animals seen were a herd of buffalo (50) just before Napi boulders exit. 1 spotted hyena at the den on transport dam access road, lying very relaxed next to the road. Got to hear about a leopard on Napi at the junction of transport dam access road. We drove up there, but found nothing. 1.3kms from transport dam entrance, we found a female cheetah. Distant sighting though. General game on S112 and S114. Giraffe, waterbuck, kudu, warthog, steenbok, klipspringer and impala. Interesting to see the male impala's actions with the female's as we approach RUT.

In the afternoon we went looking for the lions said to be on S114 but no luck.Fantastic elephant bull eating right next to the road on S112. We stopped and allowed him to walk straight past the vehicle. Very relaxed and guests loved it. Distant rhino sighting throughout the day.

25 April 2013
Quests went on a bushwalk in the morning..

More updates coming soon!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

All About The African Fish Eagle

 
 
Length: 63-73cm
Wingspan:  Male – 191cm, Female – 237cm
Weight:  Male – 1.99-2.5kg, Female – 3.17-3.63kg
 
Field Recognition – In flight the conspicuous white head, short white tail, broad wings with dark feathers and chestnut underwing coverts are characteristic. The sexes are alike, but females are 10-15% larger than males.
 
Behaviour – Pairs are highly territorial. They are mostly found in groups of either parents and their young or immature and sub-adults. The loud ringing call, that of the male is higher pitched than the female.
 
Feeding – They glide down towards a surface-feeding fish, grabbing and lifting it from the water. They also are known to feed on various small animals.
 
Breeding season – March to September, peaking June to August.
 
Nest – Large platform of sticks lined with grass, papyrus heads and some green leaves. Usally up in trees or sometimes on cliffs.
 
Eggs – 1-3 eggs, usually 2.
 
Incubation – 42-44 days 45 by both sexes.
 
Nesting – 70-75 days, fed by the female on prey brought by the male.
 
Habitat – Large bodies of fresh water.
 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

On Safari Starting 18 April 2013

Mark Enters The Kruger

18 April 2013

Route: Numb tar - Napi - Boulders - Napi - Nkambeni Camp

A very quiet afternoon drive with a total of:
9 Impala just before Napi Junction.
4 female Kudu just before Voortrekker link.
7 Waterbuck at Shithave
1 Buffalo bull at the water of Shithave and approximately 400m
A distant sighting of 2 elephants.

19 April 2013

Route: Albaseni - Doispan - S114 - S112 - H3 - Voortrekker - Albaseni - Doispan – Albaseni

A good day today with some good sightings. Animals spotted were:
A Heard of Buffalo 1km down Albaseni
1 Elephant bull north of Cheetah Pan
5 Wild Dogs ran past us 1km from Doispan
1 female Spotted Hyena at the Doispan Albaseni Junction.
On the way to skakuza 2 Honey Badgers crossed the road in front of us.
3 male Lions 700m before the S112
1 Cheetah just killed an impala 5m off the H3 at Quagga Pan
1 female Leopard 1.3km south of Afsaal lying in a tree.
A herd of Elephant (10) 7.3km down the Voortrekker.

Got word of another cheetah on Doispan and after collecting our new guest we headed off to see if we could find it. We founder her hunting a herd of impala approximately 1.3km from Albaseni Junction.

On our return to camp we saw a herd (200) buffalo on Albaseni. General game has been great as well.

20 April 2013

Guests went on a bush walk this morning, on return we went for breakfast before leaving the Kruger National Park.

Dean Enters The Kruger

21 April 2013

Arrived at Numbi gate with 2 guests, we started off by going for lunch at Pretoriuskop camp, after which we went out on a game drive.

Route driven was down Napi road - h3 - Quagga pan - Napi road - Nkambeni tented camp.

Animals seen were zebra, impala, wildebeest, rhino, elephant and buffalo.

Quiz Question For the Day..

What colour are cheetah Cubs?

*Grey
*Tan
*White
*Black

Friday, April 19, 2013

Creature Comforts

By Peter Ryan

To care for their plumage, birds undertake a range of activities. Feathers are dead structures that need constant attention to function effectively for flight and insulation. Birds replace their feathers regularly, but this is a costly process, so they spend considerable effort to ensure their feathers remain in good shape for as long as possible.

PREENING

The most obvious of these comfort behaviours is preening, where a bird uses its bill to groom its feathers and skin. Typically, the bill nibbles along the length of each feather from base to tip. This has several functions. First, it cleans feathers of dust and external parasites. Second, coupled with stretching and shaking, preening ensures feathers are aligned correctly.  And thirdly, it repairs any breaks in a feathers vane by reconnecting its inter-locking hooks, like sealing a zip-lock bag. In most birds, preening also serves to spread the oil from the uropygial or “preen” glands over the feathers, skin, legs and bill. A preening bird repeatedly rubs its bill and head over these glands, located at the base of the tail. This coats the bill and head with a thin film of oil, which is then transferred to the rest of the body. Preen oil helps to maintain feather integrity and flexibility, as well as enhancing waterproofing. As a result, preen glands are well developed in most waterbirds. But not cormorants and darters, which have partially or fully wettable feathers to reduce their buoyancy when diving. Preen oil might also help to deter lice, mites and other feather parasites. Birds that have a large diversity of parasites tend to have large preen glands. In a few groups, such as hoopoes and wood-hoopoes, symbiotic bacteria live in the preen gland, making the preen oil particularly pungent. Their presence gives the oil anti-bacterial properties. Which help slow feather degradation. They also make the birds distasteful to mammals such as genets, which probably helps to reduce the risk of predation while roosting in tree cavities.

DUSTING

All birds have preen glands as chicks, but they cease functioning as birds develop in groups such as the ratites (walking birds – Ed.) and bustards. These birds typically use dust to help keep their feathers clean, although this behaviour is by no-means-confined to birds without preen glands. Dusting is common in ground-dwelling birds, especially in arid areas where water is scarce, limiting the options to bathe. Among Southern African birds, it is particularly common in gamebirds, larks and sparrows. A more sophisticated approach is to grow your own “dust”. Herons and some parrots have special powder down feathers that are unique in continuing to grow year round.

ANTING

This is either done indirectly, by lying with wings and tail spread where ants are active and quivering to encourage them to “attack” the bird, or directly, by rubbing ants over the flight feathers. In most instances of direct anting, the ants are discarded after being wiped over the plumage, but some birds do eat them.

SCRATCHING

Birds cant reach all parts of their bodies with their bills, so inaccessible parts such as the head, throat and bill are groomed with the feet in ritualised scratching behaviour. In the extreme case of the sword-billed hummingbird, its bill is longer than its body, rendering it virtually useless for preening, so all grooming is done by the feet.

BATHING

Preening may occur at any time, but it is often associated with bathing. The actual process of bathing varies among birds, from wetting their bills while preening, through standing in water, to swimming and even plunging into water from the air. Some birds also bathe in the rain, or use dew on leaves and other vegetation. Bathing usually is accompanied by vigorous shaking and ruffling of the feathers, and typically is followed by a period of extended preening.

SUNNING

To care for their plumage, birds expose themselves to the heat of the sun on hot days, fluffing up their body feathers and spreading their wings. In vultures, this has been shown to help restore flight feathers to their original shape if they become stressed in flight.

SOCIALIZING

From a human perspective, perhaps the most interesting aspect of comfort behaviours is their use in social context. Birds often preen each other, recalling human couples canoodling. This allopreening does indeed serve to help establish and maintain pair bonds, or social cohesion among group-living birds. It is concentrated on the head area, where birds cant preen themselves with their bills.

Wild Magazine Autumn 2013 
  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What Lies Beneath

By Dr Ian Whyte

I was only ever chased up a tree by an animal once in my 37 years in the Kruger National Park, by a hippo that had come to graze on the lawn in my garden. Though there is little data to corroborate the reputation hippos have as being the mammal that kills more humans than any other in Africa, and i do wonder heather this reputation is deserved, I wasn’t taking any chances. It may well have been the case when humans and hippos tended to live along-side one another and potential for conflict was far greater. Hippos attacking fish boats, raiding crops or simply grazing around villages are all situations with the potential for fatal consequences to humans. These days I suspect elephants have taken over this role.  Humans and elephant populations are growing rapidly in many parts of the continent and conflict is on the rise. Be as it may, hippos remain dangerous animals capable of inflicting fearsome injuries and have been responsible for many human deaths. In most instances attacks on boats or people on the edge of the water are by mothers with small calves.  You only have to look at their teeth to understand why hippos are so fearsome.  Their huge canine teeth, measuring up to 300 millimetres in the lower jaw and 150 millimetres in the upper, grow continuously. These teeth protrude from the skull in such a way that they wear off against each other, keeping them razor sharp. The jaws open wide enough to encompass a human torso. In a bite from a hippo the upper and lower canines would probably meet inside the body, punching two huge holes right through it, almost certainly a fatal injury. Most field guides will tell you that hippos can stay submerged for up to six minutes, but rangers in the Kruger have recorded times of up to eight minutes. Once alarmed, the animals are wary of exposing themselves and will breath by cautiously allowing only the tip of the nostrils to break the surface of the water. So as not to give their position away, they do this in almost complete silence, compared to the explosive release of air normally heard from relaxed animals in the water. Hippo bulls are very territorial. They maintain a territory, usually consisting of a good pool with sandbanks for sunbathing, for many years. The territory is confined to a stretch of river and its immediate embankments, and does not extend to the grazing areas away from the river. Each territory has its associated females and calves that return to the same pool during the daylight hours. This status quo remains while the bull holds tenure, which he does for as long as he can fend off rivals. Displacement by a younger, more vigorous bull results in a upheaval in which the new contender may kill the calves sired by the previous bull. This behaviour ensures the new bulls genes are passes on into future generations and not those of his predecessor. Fighting is generally ritualised with much posturing and open-jawed displaying of the canines.  But sometimes more serious fights erupt in which males may inflict serious wounds by slashing at each other with their sharp canine teeth. These may last for several hours and are accompanied by weird vocalisations such as squeals, grunts and roars. Such battles can result in the death of one, or sometimes both, of the protagonists. Given their size, hippos have an extraordinarily short gestation period of eight months. Growth of the foetus in the womb is incredibly fast. Black rhinos, which are similar in size to hippos, have a gestation time almost twice as long, yet rhino calf weighs less at birth, about 40 kilograms, compared to a newborn hippo at about 50 kilograms. Calves may be born at any time of the year but the majority are born during the mid-summer, rainy months. When the time comes to give birth, female hippos move away from the herd and remain separated for about a fortnight. The calves are capable of going into deep water and can suckle underwater within minutes of being born. Initially the calf stays in shallow water near a shore while the mother grazes nearby. Growth of the first 10 years of life is also rapid. The average increase in weight is in the order of 100 kilograms a year, so that at 10 years old, a hippo can weigh in excess of 1200 kilograms. Males and females are similar in size, the male being only slightly larger than the female.

Wild magazine summer 2013/2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

Foreign Tourists Involved In An Accident In The #KNP

Foreign tourists involved in an accident in the #KNP.. Follow the link for the full story http://www.sanparks.org/about/news/default.php?id=55496

All About Lions


*Lions are the dominant members of the food chain, but it remains a mystery why they kill all other members of the carnivore family as well as several less-competitive species such as baboons, monitie lizards and crocodiles. The logical answer is that this removes potential competitors, but its hard to imagine how a mongoose could compete with a lion or provide a fit meal. Leopards differ from lions in this regard, eating whatever they kill.

*The boisterous rough and tumble of lion cubs not only teaches hunting behaviour, but also develops social skills. lions are uniquely social among all cats, living in prides without dominance hierarchies.

*Cubs and lionesses feed primarily on Zebra, wildebeest and buffalo.

*Male lions eat more buffalo than females do. Their size accounts for their increased hunting success.

*Thanks to their strategy of hunting in a group, lions can kill prey much larger than themselves. Species such as wildebeest are vulnerable to attack by lionsand thus highly preferred. Lionesses co-ordinate group hunts of prey that can run fast and are medium to large in size. Once the prey is detected, it is encircled. Each lioness waits to either rush at or chase down the quarry. Cubs and subadults ait eagerly. When they hear the knock-down they rush to assist and join the feast.

*As they spend most of their time patrolling their territories, typically as a coalition of to, males have had to learn other hunting skills. Male lions in Kruger are successful hunters in their own right, largely killing buffalo, impala and warthog, but not with the same co-ordinated skill as the lionesses.

*Males are not above scavenging from the pride kills of wildebeest, zebra, kudu and waterbuck. When these kills are large adults (above 150kg) males feed with the pride, sometimes pushing the lionesses off the kill but tolerating the cubs.

*When the kill is smaller, one male will pick it up and steal it for himself.

*Lions tend to hunt adult giraffe in terrain where they might slip and fall when chased. This includes mud near the water's edge, rocky areas or the steep banks of rivers.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Rhino Fridays

Comments by a man on the ground, Kruger National Park Ranger, Andrew Desmet -
''Of the poachers arrested, we find there are two kinds of poachers.
‘Those who are recruited by handlers and are from villages in Mozambique, th...
ey have grown up in the bush and have excellent bush skills. They are seen as Robin Hoods in their communities.
... And those who are wanted for other crimes in South Africa, car hijackings, murders…… They are now turning to rhino poaching as it is far more lucrative.’’

Interviewer: ‘’What role does Mozambique play in this ? ‘’
Andrew Desmet : ‘’ Us on the ground, feel like we are not getting support. It’s almost like once the poachers get back across the border, they are home free. They are living quite comfortably, some of them are building big mansions, they seem untouchable.
What we are seeing, is that there are not enough arrests in Mozambique, their law also treats poachers differently to in South Africa, most only get away with a fine.
That’s why the poaching stems from there and the horns disappear to there because if they get caught with a horn on that side they get off a lot easier than they would in South Africa’’


Please join us today in a campaign to email South Africa’s Department Of Environmental Affairs ( DEA) asking them to please get the Memorandum Of Understanding ( MOU) between South Africa and Mozambique SIGNED !
Albi Modise – Chief Director: Communications/Spokesperson at National Department of Environmental Affairs
AModise@environment.gov.za

Also -

Mozambiques High Commissioner to South Africa, based in Pretoria.
Urge them to make rhino poaching a priority crime in Mozambique. ( currently it is considered a petty crime )

Please remember to keep it short and to the point.
Please do not be abusive or use strong language.
Please keep it as rational as possible, emotional ‘’bunny hugger’ outbursts are usually simply set aside.
A simple one liner ie ‘’Please stop our rhino from being poached’’ is better than nothing.

Your email message will be one more than they would otherwise receive.

High Commisioner - His Excellency, Fernando A Fazenda
Fax: +27 12 326 6388
Email: info@embamoc.co.za

You might also consider joining OSCAP, for the latest and up-to-datest Rhino News.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/OSCAP/?fref=ts

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Safari Continuing from 1 April 2013

2 April 2013

Route:  Nkambeni safari camp -  Numbi gate tar - Napi road - s113 - low water bridge - skukuza for a break.

Animals seen were kudu, impala, waterbuck, rhino, wild dog, lion, buffalo and crocodile.

After our break, we made our way back on Napi road to meet new guests and then it was on to Pretoriuskop camp for lunch.

Animals seen were elephant, rhino, bushbuck, buffalo, giraffe, Klipspringer.

After lunch it was onto circle road, Shabeni Kopies, Shabeni link road and then up the Albasini road to camp.

Animals seen were impala, kudu, waterbuck, giraffe, elephant and vervet monkeys.

3 April 2013

Route:  Nkambeni safari camp, down Numbi gate tar - Napi road – Watergate – Doispane – Albasini - Numbi gate.

Animals seen were elephant, kudu, impala, warthog, hippo, zebra, wildebeest, rhino.

After the guests left, we took a drive down Napi road to skukuza, stopping off at Shithave dam and then down Napi road, elephant and rhino were seen with a great sighting of ten sable antelope at Shithave dam.

After our lunch stop, we closed the sides of the vehicle due to heavy rain and drove back to camp not seeing to much.

4 April 2013

Route: Nkambeni safari camp - Numbi gate tar - Napi road - skukuza four way junction - Sabie low level bridge - Tshokwane tar -  Marula loop - skukuza for a break.

Animals seen were buffalo, rhino, elephant, impala, kudu, waterbuck, zebra, wildebeest, bushbuck and baboons.

After the break it was back onto Napi road and down the h3 to the s112 were there were lions, we then made our way back on Napi road to Numbi gate where we picked up more guests and made our way to Pretoriuskop for lunch.

Animals seen were baboon, kudu, impala, elephant, buffalo.

After lunch the route was Faye loop, circle road and around Shabeni Kopies before coming into camp.

Animals seen were elephant, kudu, impala, buffalo.

5 April 2013

Route: Nkambeni safari camp – Albasini - Shabeni link road – Napi - Shithave dam - Napi Boulders loop - Pretoriuskop for a break.

Animals seen were hippo's,  impala, kudu, elephant, waterbuck and zebra.

Afternoon drive:

Route: Nkambeni safari camp - Napi road – Watergat – Doispane – Albasini - Napi boulders loop - Shithave dam – back to camp.

Animals seen were elephant, buffalo, kudu, impala, waterbuck, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and hippo.

6 April 2013

Route: Nkambeni safari camp - Numbi gate tar - Napi road - H3 - Quagga pan - Napi road - skukuza for a break.

Animals seen were impala, giraffe, kudu, waterbuck, elephant and buffalo.

After our break we took a drive over the Sabie low level bridge up Tshokwane tar over the high water bridge and down Elloff street, we then went back down Napi road onto the s114 and then back to skukuza for lunch.

Animals seen were elephants, bushbuck, impala, waterbuck, buffalo, rhino, white back vultures and three cheetahs down the s114.

After lunch, it was back down Napi road to transport dam. After transport dam, it was back to Nkambeni safari camp for the evening.

Animals seen were more cheetahs as well as three leopards, one being on the transport dam access road, another being 2.9km's from the transport dam junction and then the third at 1,5km's before Shithave dam.

7 April 2013

Route: Nkambeni safari camp - Numbi gate road - Napi road - H3 - Numbi gate

Animals seen were buffalo, elephant, cheetah and rhino.
We then left the park to change vehicles and head back to Johannesburg.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

King Of The Hill

By Melissa Siebert

Sit among the bleached, ruined, dry-packed walls and fallen stones where the royal woman once gave birth. Stand where the king used to survey his lands and his people. Gaze across the Luvuvhu and Limpopo rivers into Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Let the stones of Thulamela tell their story of a once-prosperous, hierarchical community where everything had its place. This World Heritage Site in the Pafuri Section of Kruger was part of a culture also represented by two other “lost kingdoms”, Mapungubwe and Great Zimbabwe. All three shared similar socio-economic structures and the iconic towering, mortarless stone walls. Thulamela outlived these other two kingdoms, and possibly “inherited” some of the people who abandoned Great Zimbabwe in the 15th century. At Thulamela 500 royals lived on top of the citadel; 1500 commoners lived down below, farming sorghum and millet in the fertile soil, mining iron ore in 200 or so local mines and trading with Arab and Portuguese merchants. Local ivory, gold and animal skins were traded for goods from as far away as India and China. Slaves were sadly also part of the local trade, raided by Arab traders and brought to the coast of what is now Mozambique. What happened to the people of these kingdoms, the ancestors of today’s Venda and Shona people, is still being debated by archaeologists and others. “Thulamela was burned down by the people who lived here, the Venda themselves,” Said guide Eric Maluleke, leading the way up the steep, rocky path to the top of the citadel on an early summers day. “There was too much tsetse fly and drought.” This is one explanation. Others have tied the kingdom’s demise to the death of the king, the takeover of Indian Ocean trade by the Portuguese, conflict over land and other resources. Whatever the cause, the Thulamelans dispersed throughout Southern Africa, but left behind testaments to the sophistication of earlier African cultures. The site, seemingly untouched for three-and-a-half centuries, has been proclaimed as one of the most significant Late Iron Age sites on the continent. “People outside knew the ruins were here” Eric said at the hard-won citadel summit, settling us on some stones under a massive, ancient baobab in a magnificent grove. “But they were afraid to come. It was overgrown, it felt like trespassing.” Behind us, to the west and north, loom the massive stone walls, the high exterior walls concealing shorter interior ones. They are almost in ruins, periodically dismantled by local baboons searching for scorpions and assembled again by humans. Maluleke spent his first year at Thulamela as a stonemason on the site, rebuilding walls initially constructed in 1500AD. “In Zimbabwe culture, they’d send a team ahead to find a place for settlement,” Eric explained. “The place should be a raised place, flat on top with big trees, water nearby and land to cultivate.” Thulamela fitted the bill. “we’ve found gold amulets, foil and beads,” said Eric, stepping nimbly over loose stones and low walls, remarking that a number of Thulamelans were goldsmiths. “We also found a lot of copper. The women used to wear up to five kilos of copper. We’ve found hunting spears, ostrich egg beads, glass beads from India, Porcelain from China and a double iron gong, possibly from Central or West Africa, the chief’s musical instrument.” Two human skeletons were uncovered in 1996, exhumed and since reburied on the site. “One as a woman, a queen, 45 to 55 years old and buried in the foetal position inside a hut,” Eric said, showing us her resting place. Queen Losha. They named her that because of the position of her hands, palms together under her left temple, a sign of respect. DNA testing revealed she was buried, along with 291 gold beads, a gold bracelet on her left arm and a copper wire on her legs, in about 1600 AD.” The second skeleton was that of a male buried roughly 170 years earlier than Queen Losha, facing west, as they all were, to optimise the glorious sunsets. He was a chief, probably a relative of the king, speared through the spinal cord and buried in a packed position with 73 gold beads and 990 ostrich egg beads. “The day we found him there was a leopard lurking nearby, so we named him King Ingwe.” The King’s quarters were designed to keep him  hidden from everyone except his closest advisers, but with slots for the king to peer out. Eric pointed to a series of sharp stones like a crocodiles tail. “This is where the kings messenger and diviner stood to screen people. You’d be fined, with cattle, gold or cowrie shells, if you went to the king without permission.” We walked past a granary with grinding stones and several tall stones monoliths to protect the community. An enclosure where the Dombe or snake dance was once performed. A workshop with sharpening stones, to hone spears, another where the women made clay pots, and the ancient maternity ward. Standing on the edge of the cliff, surveying the vast floodplains and an old elephant trail down below, you can feel it: Thulamela lives. 

From the Wild Magazine  summer 2012/2013

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Rhino DNA Initiative Comes To A Halt

A desperate call is made for R100 000 for repairs to the generic analyser machine of the RhODIS. RhODIS is the unique South African developed rhino DNA profiling system, which provides prosecutors scientific evidence to link recovered evidence presented in a court case, to an individual incident. This method has already been used to successfully convict and sentence numerous rhino poachers.  The RhODIS database is situated at the veterinary genetics laboratory at the University of Pretoria’s Onderstepoort campus. The database contains DNA from over 6 000 rhino from both our national parks, provincially managed and private reserves with new samples being added daily. The aim is to have all the rhino in our country registered on the database to ensure no poacher can slip through unpunished. The genetic analyser machine is the key piece of equipment giving the final DNA profile. The DNA work has been hampered by the fact that the laboratory only has one such machine, limiting the number of cases it can process.  The current machine has, however, stopped working. This has stopped the progress on all current rhino DNA work. Due to the huge pressure on the resources of the RhODIS project, in getting all the rhino registered as well as coping with the pressure from forensic cases, the veterinary generics laboratory  need to increase their throughput of DNA samples from 16/day to 40/day. The scientific equipment which is pivotal to the project is extremely costly. A further R2.5 million is also called for to secure a second generic analyser.  This initiative is run by the SANParks honorary rangers, who can guarantee that 100% of the funds generated will be channelled towards repairing and procuring the generic analysers. No money will be used for administration. 

A Rhino Cow Had To Be Euthanised In The Kruger National Park

A rhino cow had to be euthanised in the Kruger National Park after she was badly mutilated by poachers a day after a SA Air Force helicopter crashed in the Park claiming the lives of all five soldiers on board. Follow the link for the full story: http://www.sanparks.org/about/news/default.php?id=55491

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Safari Starting 26 March 2013

26 March 2013

Route: Nkambeni Safari Camp onto Numbi gate tar down to skukuza for a break.

Animals seen were elephants, rhino, buffalo, ground hornbills, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, waterbuck, impala, kudu, bushbuck, Nyala.

After our break we drove down Paul Kruger Gate road, onto doispane and up albasini to Nkambeni for lunch.

Animals seen were elephants, rhino, kudu, impala, zebra, wildebeest and hippos.

Afternoon drive: 

Route: Nkambeni onto alabasini to Mendel dam up the shabeni link and around shabeni kopies.

Animals seen were hippos, kudu, impala, common duiker, steenbok, elephant, rhino.

27 March 2013

Today we took the same route as the 26th, animals seen were rhino, elephant, kudu, impala, wildebeest, hippo, zebra and buffalo.

28 March 2013

Route was the same as Wednesday with the same sighting experienced. After picking up new clients, we took a drive in the afternoon getting pretty much the same as the previous two days.

29 March 2013

Today was the same route down to skukuza for a break, until Verity and James left us and went through to Numbi gate on doispane and albasini, sightings experienced by them were Hyena, buffalo, ground hornbill, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, impala, vulture and a juvenile bateleur eagle.

After our break, we went through to marula lop, and found a male and two female lions with their three cubs in the Mahle Mahle causewa. After we finished at that sighting we made our way up Tshokwane tar over the high water bridge and back to skukuza for lunch on elloff street.

30 March 2013 

We left Nkambeni and made our way down the albasini, up shabeni link road, around circle road and down the Faye loop and into Pretoriuskop for a break.

Animals seen were kudu, waterbuck, impala, hippo, dwarf mongoose, elephant, rhino and buffalo.

After the break it was out to napi road, down to Shithave dam and around the napi boulders loop.

Animals seen were elephant, rhino, buffalo and waterbuck.

31 March 2013

Today’s route was the same as Saturday only that we went to manungu kopie and got a female leopard with her cubs. Everything above was seen again..

Afternoon drive:

We collected more guests from Verity and Numbi Gate and went to  Pretoriuskop for lunch.  After lunch we went down napi road to the junction and h3 were we turned around and came back to Nkambeni.  Animals seen were impala, kudu, elephant, buffalo and wild dog just 2.5 Km's from watergat towards the h3.

1 April 2013

This mornings drive was as follows, we went to manungu kopies close to Pretoriuskop camp were we found a leopard with her cubs, we then went down the napi road to skukuza were we found buffalo, elephant, impala, waterbuck and kudu.

After the break and hearing were there was a possibility of some lions, we made our way down the s114 to remoter kopies dam, were we found two female lions lying about 100 meters from us, they were quite active so we spent about two hours there watching them. 

After this we made our way back to skukuza for lunch.

After a lunch stop, we made our way back to Nkambeni getting more elephant as well as six different sightings of rhino.

More updates to come so keep watching.......

Monday, April 1, 2013

New Initiatives Aim To Curb Poaching Crisis

The Kruger National Park remains the hardest hit by rhino poachers this year, having lost 70 rhino to mostly foreign poachers since January 1. At the time of going to print, the total number rhino poached since the start of 2013 is 102. A total of 10 have been poached in KwaZulu-Natal, 11 in North West, 4 in Mpumalanga and 7 in limpopo. In 2012, the number of rhino poached for their horns in South Africa soared to 668. This year alone, 33 poachers have been arrested, 24 of them in the Kruger National Park. The minister of water and enviromental affairs, Ms Eden Molewa, has noted with concern the increase in poaching and its confident that SANParks is on the verge of a turnaround given the initiatives presently being implemented. She emphasised the fact that rhino poaching is fought at verious levels, including field coverage, public awareness, regional engagement and even at a global level. In the upcoming Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting, the minister plans to engage with the regional groupings on this issue. Futhermore, she welcomed the recently announced signing of a declaration by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, banning theimport of all white and black rhino specimens. "The South African government welcomes the announcement by the Vietnamese government that the prohibition on the export, import and trade of specimens of rhino will come into effect", she says. The prohibition follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the field of biodiversity conservation and protection by Molewa with theminister of agricultural and rural development of the Social Republic of Vietnam, Dr Cao Duc Phat. The MoU was signed in Hanoi, Vietnam on December 10, 2012.The objective of the MoU is to promote cooperation between the two countries in the field of biodiversity management, conservation and protection. Particularly aimed at curbing the scourge in rhino poaching, the MoU seeks topromote cooperation in law enforcement and compliance with the CITES and other relevant legislation and and conventionson the basis of equality and mutual benefit.Officials from both countries are currently working on a draft plan of action with short - and long - term activities which include activities to curb the illegal trade in rhino horn. In terms of the decision by the Government of Vietnam, signed on January 24,2013,products derived or made from white rhino, blackrhino and the African elephant - all listed in terms of the Appendices of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) - may no longer be exported or traded. Live rhino and elephant and its products may, however, be imported for diplomatic purposes, scientific research, biodiversity conservation, zoo displays, exhibitions, non-profit circus performances, law enforcement or exchanged as specimens in terms of CITES management provisions. The decleration also states that specimens may be imported only for non-commercial purposes in accordance with the cooperative agreement between the CITES management authority of Vietnam and the CITES management authority of exporting countries, Specimens for which CITES import permits had already been granted would not be affected. Anyone caught violating the articles of the decision by Vietnamese government will be charged either with a criminal or administrtive offence subject to the nature and seriousness of the violation. " We believe that this latest development is important for South Africa will assist our law enforcement authorities to effectively deal with the current scourge of poaching" Molewa said.

SANParks Times newspaper March 2013   

Photos Of Giraffe Taken By Dean While On Safari